Technology developed by the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon be deployed at police stations across the country, enabling local law enforcement to identify and track people “deemed suspicious” and to permanently store their DNA in databases of potential criminals.
Here’s a bit of background on the disconcerting development as reported by the New York Times. I’m including the lengthy quote from the article so that the shocking scope of the situation can be appreciated:
They call it the “magic box.” Its trick is speedy, nearly automated processing of DNA.
“It’s groundbreaking to have it in the police department,” said Detective Glenn Vandegrift of the Bensalem Police Department. “If we can do it, any department in the country can do it.”
Bensalem, a suburb in Bucks County, near Philadelphia, is on the leading edge of a revolution in how crimes are solved. For years, when police wanted to learn whether a suspect’s DNA matched previously collected crime-scene DNA, they sent a sample to an outside lab, then waited a month or more for results.
But in early 2017, the police booking station in Bensalem became the first in the country to install a Rapid DNA machine, which provides results in 90 minutes, and which police can operate themselves. Since then, a growing number of law enforcement agencies across the country — in Houston, Utah, Delaware — have begun operating similar machines and analyzing DNA on their own.